THE WAY FORWARD IS KRISTOL CLEAR…. For about a year, Bill Kristol was a columnist for Time magazine, where he would routinely write pieces explaining what he’d like to see the Republican Party do. The editors were unimpressed, so Time dropped him.

From there, Kristol became a columnist for the New York Times, where he routinely wrote pieces explaining what he’d like to see the Republican Party do. The paper of record was also unimpressed, so it dropped him, too.

Fortunately for Kristol, conservative pundits are not part of a merit-based system, so he’s been hired by the Washington Post, and is using his new position to write columns about what he’d like to see the Republican Party do.

The Republican Party’s navel is a pretty unattractive thing.

So maybe Republicans should stop obsessively gazing at it. Instead, the GOP might focus on taking on the Obama administration, whose policies are surprisingly vulnerable to political and substantive attack. Battling Barack Obama is an enterprise that offers better grounds for Republican hope than indulging in spasms of introspection or bouts of petty recrimination.

And to think, I expected Kristol to write a column encouraging his beloved GOP to forge a more cooperative relationship with the popular Democratic president, while moving closer to the mainstream on major policy disputes. Imagine my surprise to see the Post run the same column Kristol’s been writing since 1993, only with slightly different issue specifics.

As the Weekly Standard editor sees it, if Republicans go on the attack now, voters will know who to “blame next year” and the 2010 midterms “could be the winter of Obama’s discontent.”

Time and the New York Times let this guy go? What were they thinking letting a visionary like Kristol slip through their fingers?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.